Study: Playtime with Fathers May Improve Children’s Self-control

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A new study suggests that children who play with their fathers at a very young age may find it easier to control their actions and emotions later in life. Conducted in partnership with the nonprofit organization LEGO Foundation, the study examined how playtime with parents affects children’s development. Researchers from the University of Cambridge reviewed data from 78 studies mostly conducted in Europe and North America between 1977 and 2017. Findings showed that mothers and fathers share many similarities in how they play with their children. However, the researchers found that fathers are more inclined to do physical activities with their children, such as chasing, tickling, and giving piggyback rides. According to the researchers, these kinds of interactions help children deal with their feelings and have better self-discipline when they grow up. Children who experienced quality playtime with their fathers were less likely to have issues and problems with other kids at school. Study author Paul Ramchandani [ram-CHAN-da nee] explained that because physical play tends to create fun and exciting situations, children will be able to practice self-regulation. For example, children can learn to control their strength when physical play has gone too far. Despite this finding, the researchers stressed that mothers can also support play involving physical activities. They added that all types of parent-child play at an early age can have a positive impact on children’s cognitive and emotional development. Ramchandani pointed out that while parents may have different approaches when playing with their kids, stepping outside their comfort zone is important, as introducing varied ways of play and interaction can greatly benefit children.

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